Owning Micro-Moments to Influence the Car Buying Process

Micro-moments are critical digital interactions that occur in today’s consumer journey. They are key moments when information is actively sought out, shaping consumers’ preferences and purchase intent regarding a product or service. Delving into the auto industry as an example, we pinpoint the five micro-moments on a consumer’s decision-making path that should be addressed.

Micro-moments are critical digital interactions that occur in today’s consumer journey. They are key moments when information is actively sought out, shaping consumer’s preferences and purchase intent regarding a product or service.

More and more car buyers are turning to digital platforms, especially on their mobile devices, conducting months of online research ahead of any visits to the dealership. With only two dealership visits for the average car buyer, having a strong online presence has never been more important.

Google searches, YouTube views, image searches, and website visits are just some of the ways consumers deliberately connect with car brands in an effort to narrow down their choices. This results in hundreds of micro-moments that manufacturers can leverage to drive purchase decisions.

In the auto industry, there are five specific micro-moments on a consumer’s decision-making path which manufacturers should aim to address:



1. “Which car is best” moments: These initial research moments focus on collecting general data to understand which cars are recommended by experts and are considered best in class. This information is increasingly gleaned from YouTube videos featuring trusted reviews and head to head comparisons. Auto review videos on YouTube alone have shot up by 100% in 2015 and show no signs of stopping.

2. “Is it right for me” moments: This is a critical stage where searches become more personalized. Car buyers want to know whether specific vehicles will suit their lifestyle, with considerations around appearance, safety features, and luxury options. Again, videos are instrumental in this phase as consumers turn to YouTube to watch vehicle test drives and highlight reels on cars’ attributes and configuration options. Static images still play a role in showing how a car looks, both inside and out, but the vast majority of these pictures are now being viewed on mobile devices. The below video illustrates the effectiveness of this medium when speaking to a consumer’s “is it right for me” micro-moments:

3. “Can I afford it” moments: Once the choices have been narrowed down, consumers concentrate on the financials. Information around prices and owning and leasing options are critical at this stage and are increasingly being sought out on smartphones. The video below provides a great example of how impactful these communications can be in addressing the “which car is best,” “is it right for me,” and “can I afford it” micro-moments:

4. “Where should I buy it” moments: Once consumers have determined which car to purchase, they seek out dealership locations, hours, and inventory. More and more, dealerships are getting the comparison treatment as consumers examine online reviews to obtain the best experience.

5. “Am I getting a deal” moments: Even after consumers get to the dealership and start negotiating packages, their online research continues, with 50% of shoppers consulting their mobile phones on the lot to ensure they are getting the best price.Owning each of these micro-moments can help car manufacturers steer buyers in their direction, but simply showing up is not enough. In order to effectively meet the needs of consumers at each step, cover off the three A’s for each micro-moment.

Be Available

Be the Authority

Be Accountable

Be Available:
This means being at the top of Google searches, creating consistent content across online multiple platforms, and ensuring content is compatible with smartphone devices. Relevant information that speaks to each of the above micro-moments should be easily accessible across digital and mobile platforms, where consumers are already conducting their search. Keep in mind that YouTube influences more car buyers than TV, newspapers, or magazines, making it critical to leverage this platform.

Be the Authority:
Further to establishing a strong digital presence, it is important to offer relevant information that directly addresses the different micro-moment categories. This means providing useful, easy to digest data on pricing and features in direct comparison to competitors in class.

Be Accountable:
Establishing key performance indicators at the beginning of digital programs can help measure how owning these micro-moments are impacting sales and whether marketing dollars are being used effectively.

By applying the three A’s, car manufacturers can shape a consumer’s mindset over each of the key decision-making stages and ultimately achieve higher sales.

What methods do you use to stay available? How do you demonstrate your expertise? Tweet us @stjoseph with your thoughts.